Better Insurance Coverage for Singapore Domestic Workers Starting October 2017

Foreign domestic workers in Singapore can expect better insurance coverage during their employment contract period as new Ministry of Manpower rules.

Beginning October 1, MOM will stipulate that personal accident insurance premium accident insurance for helpers must cover any sudden, unforeseen and unexpected incident that results in permanent disability or death. Employers will need to purchase accident insurance policies with coverage of at least S$60,000 — an upgrade from the current coverage of S$40,000. With the increase in coverage, annual insurance premiums are expected to go up between S$7 and $S15.

Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan announced the change on May 7.

Under the new rules, the coverage across insurers will also be standardised to ensure that all maids receive the same protection throughout their employment in Singapore.

Currently, insurers provide a variety of coverage for personal accident insurance, with some outlining a shorter list of accidents and imposing more exclusions. As a result, not all foreign domestic workers cannot expect compensation for certain accidents even if circumstances and injuries are the same.

The new MOM policy forbids insurers from imposing exclusion clauses other than those specified by MOM, said Tan. It will also create blanket coverage for the helper from the period she arrives in Singapore until the day she flies back to her home country at the end of the contract. Should the helper change employers, the existing insurance policy still stands, until her new work permit is issued, the minister added.

And, in an effort to speed up the compensation process, helpers or their representatives will be able to file claims directly with insurers, instead of relying on their employers to do so on their behalf. A representative appointed by MOM will be able to file the claim on their behalf if maids cannot do it by themselves.

The change is the first since Singapore government made its last review on personal accident protection for maids in 2008.

Tan also noted that the review on benefits were not only at the urging of labor advocates but also from some employers who asked if more can be done to protect the families of domestic workers who are involved in accidents. He added that the changes will help employers better protect their maids at a slight increase in premiums, and give maids greater peace of mind.

“We trust that these changes will further facilitate a harmonious working relationship between employers and their foreign domestic workers,” he said.

Centre for Domestic Employees chairman Yeo Guat Kwang said the centre was happy to note that MOM had heeded its calls to raise minimum coverage, noting how the starting salaries of maids here have increased from an average of $300 in 2012 to about $550 in 2016.

As of December 2016, there are more than 240,000 foreign domestic workers working in Singapore.

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